Ministry of Culture Community and Youth, Charities Unit
- Consultation Period:
- 05 May 2022 - 26 May 2022
Consultation on Revised Regime for Charitable Fund-raising Appeals
1. The Office of the Commissioner of Charities (COC) is seeking public feedback on a revised regulatory regime for fund-raising appeals conducted in Singapore. This public consultation will run from 5 May 2022 to 26 May 2022.
2. All fund-raising appeals for charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes are regulated by the COC. The Charities (Fund-raising Appeals for Local and Foreign Charitable Purposes) Regulations 2012 (the Regulations) set out the obligations of fund-raisers such as the duty to provide clear and accurate information to donors, manage and use donation moneys responsibly, and keep records of donations received and disbursed.
3. Depending on the nature of the fund-raising appeal, a fund-raiser is also required to:
a. obtain a House to House and Street Collections (HHSC) licence from the Police (or a fund-raising permit from the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) if the collection is by an NCSS member) if the collection is done by means of visits from house to house, by soliciting in the streets or other places, or by both such means;
b. apply for a Fund-Raising for Foreign Charitable Purposes (FRFCP) permit from the COC if the fund-raising appeal is for a foreign charitable purpose (be it where funds are raised privately or publicly).
4. Currently, members of the public can verify the authenticity of such collections by requesting the fund-raiser to show them the Collector’s Certificate of Authority issued by the Police (or NCSS), or FRFCP permit issued by the COC. In addition, members of the public can use the SMS Verification Service by the Charities Unit or check online through the Police or NCSS websites or through the Charity Portal’s Fund-Raising Permit search function at www.charities.gov.sg. More information on the verification methods available today, can be found here.
PROPOSED NEW REGIME
5. Since charities are regulated by the COC and FRFCP appeals granted permits by the COC are for legitimate causes, the revised regime will exempt collections for (a) registered and exempt charities under the Charities Act (CA), and (b) foreign charitable purposes approved by the COC (collectively termed as “Charitable Collections”) from the House to House and Street Collections Act (HHSCA).
6. This will eliminate dual regulation under both the HHSCA and the CA, reduce administrative burden on charities and fund-raisers, and make it easier for fund-raisers to raise public donations. In addition, we recognise that Singapore’s charity landscape is maturing in part due to the establishment of government-supported programmes that enable charities in capability-development, and a more highly aware giver/donor community. Our charities also value good governance, and place great importance on building trust and strong relationships with givers/donors.
7. In tandem with the exemptions from the HHSCA, other measures will be put in place to manage fund-raising appeals which take into account the more mature charity landscape. Specifically, the regime for fund-raising appeals done house to house or on the streets will comprise the following:
a. Licences will no longer be required from the Police (or NCSS) for Charitable Collections. Fund-raising appeals for foreign charitable purposes will still require a permit from the COC.
b. In lieu of the above, an enhanced disclosure programme1 will be put in place for public fund-raising appeals for charities and FRFCP permit holders (see paragraphs 8 and 9 for details). The proposed disclosure requirements serve to encourage transparency and accountability of fund-raisers and facilitate donors to verify the legitimacy of the Collections which the present HHSC regime provides. This will safeguard public interest and trust, so that the public will continue to support charitable causes with confidence.
c. Collectors/fund-raisers will need to carry clear identification when performing their duties.
8. The proposed disclosure requirements will apply to all public fund-raising appeals (i.e. by means of visits from house to house or by soliciting in the streets or other places or by both such means) conducted by or for registered charities, exempt charities and FRFCP permit holders.
9. Charities and FRFCP permit holders will have to disclose on the Charity Portal (and if they wish, on their own websites) the following information, which will be made publicly available, at least one month before the appeal commences:
a. Purpose of the fund-raising appeal;
b. Duration of the fund-raising appeal;
c. Mode of collection (i.e. street collection or house to house visit);
d. Location(s) of the fund-raising appeal;
e. Name of third-party fund-raiser conducting the appeal (if any);
f. Where a third-party fund-raiser is involved:
i. percentage of the total gross receipts from the fund-raising appeal that is expected as payment for the expenses incurred for the appeal;
ii. declaration by the charity/FRFCP permit holder that (i) a written agreement has been established with the fund-raiser as required under the Regulations2; and (ii) the charity/FRFCP permit holder has conducted its due diligence and ascertained that the third-party fund-raiser is fit and proper3, see also paragraph 10;
g. Contact number or email address the charity/FRFCP permit holder can be reached at should the public require any clarifications on the appeal.
10. Third-Party Fund-raisers. Where third-party fund-raisers are involved, charities and FRFCP permit holders shall conduct due diligence to ascertain that these third-party fund-raisers are fit and proper. While the COC will not be prescriptive in how due diligence should be conducted, the onus will be on the charity/FRFCP permit holders to provide evidence of their due diligence and/or process as and when the COC requests it.
11. Public Information. The information disclosed under paragraph 9 will be immediately published on the Charity Portal for public viewing once submitted by the charity or FRFCP permit holder. Members of the public will be able to view the disclosures when they search for fund-raising activities (e.g. by name of the charity) on the Portal. This acts as a means for the public to verify these public appeals.
12. In addition, to further promote the transparency and accountability of charities, and facilitate informed giving practices, the COC’s Office intends to simplify public access to the annual reports and financial statements submitted by charities to the COC. At present, members of the public must log in using their Singpass accounts in order to view these submissions on the Charity Portal. The Singpass log in is proposed to be removed.
13. Identification. When conducting the public appeal, collectors/fund-raisers on the ground must carry clear identification as well as provide the relevant information to the giver/donor who wishes to authenticate the fund-raising appeal. This may take the form of:
a. wearing a tag/lanyard displaying which charity or FRFCP permit holder they are fund-raising for; or
b. produce an official letter (with letterhead) from the charity or FRFCP permit holder indicating details of the appeal and a contact of the charity or FRFCP permit holder for clarifications.
14. Legislative Changes. The COC’s Office will amend the Regulations accordingly to empower the COC to take appropriate regulatory actions against the charities and/or FRFCP permit holders should they fail to comply with the requirements or for willfully providing inaccurate disclosures. This could include penalties for those who do not comply.
15. These requirements will be implemented in Q4 of 2022. We may consider a grace period to facilitate a smooth transition to any new regime.
16. From 5 May 2022 to 26 May 2022, all charities and interested members of the public are invited to provide your comments and feedback on:
a. What information should be disclosed on the Charity Portal (as provided in paragraphs 8 and 9)
- Feedback on the proposed disclosure and other requirements, and/or suggestions on what other information should be included (either in place of or in addition to the current proposals). The information to be presented should help donors verify the authenticity of the appeals easily.
b. How the information (as provided in paragraphs 11 and 12) should be presented for public viewing; and
- Suggestions on how and where the information should be presented on the Charity Portal.
c. Requirements pertaining to conduct of public appeals (as provided in paragraph 13)
- Feedback and/or suggestions on the information that should be displayed or provided when fund-raisers are conducting appeals on the ground.
17. The comments and feedback can be submitted via a survey form at this link (https://go.gov.sg/fundraisingfeedbackform) or via email to: MCCY_Charities@mccy.gov.sg with the subject: “Consultation on Revised Regime for Charitable Fund-raising Appeals”.
19. We value all feedback. However, we seek your understanding that the COC’s Office will not be able to individually acknowledge or address every comment received, and that we can only consider comments and feedback that are received by 26 May 2022. Thank you.
1 More information on the existing duties and obligations of fund-raisers under the Regulations can be found here: https://charities.gov.sg/Pages/Fund-Raising/Fund-Raisers-Duties-and-Obligations.aspx.
2 Refer to regulation 14 of the Regulations.
3 Considerations on whether a person is fit and proper to fund-raise include (but is not limited to) whether the person has honesty, integrity, good reputation, competence and capability. For example, under the Regulations, an applicant for an FRFCP permit is not a fit and proper person to conduct the fund-raising appeal if he has been convicted of any offence involving dishonesty (see regulation 22(3)(b) of the Regulations).